There has now been a second confirmed case of measles in Southern DHB. The person involved had recently travelled to Dunedin from Christchurch, so the case is connected to those in Canterbury. Contact tracing is underway.
Health care workers – please check your own immunisation status. Remember you need two MMRs to be protected, and those aged between 29 and 50 may not have had both vaccinations. If in doubt, please contact your general practice.
Measles must be notified to Public Health South upon suspicion
Public Health South’s advice to general practices in the Southern district is to continue with the usual vaccination schedule at this time. There is no evidence to support Southern DHB promoting early vaccination for measles, as the vaccine is not always effective when given early and will result in children requiring an extra vaccination.
The clinical situation in Canterbury is different with a significant number of confirmed cases of measles, which has resulted in their decision to bring forward the measles vaccination for young children.
Advice for families travelling to Christchurch:
- Consider if travel is essential
- The 15 month MMR vaccination can be brought forward to 12 months, discuss with your GP.
- Babies six to 11 months – discuss with your GP as your child will still need MMR vaccinations at 15 months and four years.
Our immunisation coverage at Vercoe Brown for infants under 2 years is 100%
Fact sheet September 2017
What is measles?
Measles, also known as ‘English measles’ or morbilli, is a
potentially serious, highly infectious disease caused by a virus.
How do you catch measles?
Measles is spread through contact with infectious droplets from
the nose or throat of a person with measles, often during the
first 2–4 days of symptoms before the rash appears. One person
with measles can pass the disease on to 12–18 people who have
not already had measles or been immunised against the disease.
How common is measles?
New Zealand had large measles epidemics in 1991 and 1997,
and continues to have regular smaller outbreaks with the most
recent being in 2016. The last measles related death in New
Zealand was one of seven during the 1991 epidemic.
How serious is measles?
Complications from measles are common. They may be caused
by the measles virus or a bacteria because the measles virus
lowers the body’s ability to fight other infections. The risk of
complications and death are higher in children under 5 years and
adults over 20 years of age. A table listing possible complications
of measles is on page two.
Anyone who has a weakness of their immune system is at
greater risk of very serious disease. These people are often
unable to be immunised and rely on protection from those
around them being immunised.
What are the symptoms of measles?
The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose and
conjunctivitis (inflammation in the eyes), which lasts for 2–4
days. It may be possible to see small white spots (Koplik spots)
inside the mouth. A rash appears 2–4 days after the first
symptoms, beginning on the head and gradually spreading down
the body to the arms and legs. The rash lasts for up to one week.
How do you prevent measles?
Immunisation is the best way to prevent measles.
In the event of a measles outbreak, unimmunised children and
adults born since 1968 who do not have evidence of immunity
against measles and who have contact with a measles case are
advised NOT to attend early childhood services, school or public
places for 14 days after their last contact with the infected
Which vaccines protect against measles?
The measles vaccine was introduced in New Zealand in 1969
and replaced by the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
vaccine in 1990. The combined measles, mumps, rubella vaccine
is the only vaccine available in New Zealand to prevent measles.
M-M-R® II and Priorix® are weakened live measles, mumps and
rubella vaccines. M-M-R II has been used in New Zealand for
many years. From July 2017, the MMR vaccine will change to
Priorix. These two vaccines are fully interchangeable.
Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended after the age of
12 months, given at least four weeks apart. After the first dose
of MMR vaccine, 90–95% of people will be protected against
measles, i.e. 5–10 people out of every 100 immunised could still
get measles. After the second dose almost everyone is protected.
How safe is the MMR vaccine?
The risk of the MMR vaccine causing serious harm is extremely
rare. Immunisation against measles is considerably safer than
getting the disease. A table comparing the effects of measles
with vaccine responses is on page two.
There is no evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism.
Extensive research conducted into whether the MMR vaccine
contributes to the development of autism has not shown a link.
More detailed information is available on our website.
Who should get the MMR vaccine?
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is due at 15 months of age
and the second at 4 years of age. However, parents can request
that the first MMR vaccine be given anytime from 12 months of
age and the second any time from four weeks after the first.
Infants in whom a liver or kidney transplant is likely are funded
for an accelerated immunisation schedule and have their MMR
immunisations at 7 months and 12 months of age. Older children
and adults who are scheduled for a solid organ transplantation
should also receive the MMR vaccine before their transplant if
they have not been immunised or are not immune.
During an outbreak of measles, a Medical Officer of Health may
recommend that a baby in close contact with measles and aged
6–12 months of age have an extra MMR vaccine dose. When a
baby this young has an MMR vaccine, they still need two doses
after they are 12 months of age.
It is recommended that adults born after 1968 have
documented evidence of two doses of the MMR vaccine given
after 12 months of age, even if they have records showing
receipt of measles-only or measles/rubella vaccine(s).
Adults born before 1969 are considered immune to measles
because the virus is so infectious and a measles vaccine was
not available in New Zealand until 1969.
Healthy close contacts of pregnant women or those with an
immune system weakness can be given the MMR vaccine.
Women who are breastfeeding can be given the MMR vaccine.
Individuals who have had a bone marrow transplant, or who are
not immune to measles, mumps or rubella after chemotherapy
can be given the MMR vaccine on advice of their specialist.
Can people with an egg allergy have the MMR
Yes. Two studies of over 1200 children with severe egg allergy
showed that these children safely received the MMR vaccine.
Those with a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to egg can be
vaccinated in general practice following the usual processes for
Who should not have the MMR vaccine?
»» Anyone who has experienced a severe allergic reaction
(anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of any measles containing
vaccine or any of the vaccine components.
»» Anyone who is acutely unwell. The presence of a minor
infection is not a reason to delay immunisation.
»» Anyone with a diagnosed weakness of their immune system.
»» Anyone who has received another live injected vaccine,
including varicella (chickenpox) or BCG vaccines, within the
»» Women who are currently pregnant (women should delay
pregnancy for one month after having the vaccine).
»» Babies under 12 months of age, except on the advice of a
Medical Officer of Health during a measles outbreak.
What if a woman has MMR and then finds out she
Research in the US, Germany and the UK found no injury to the
unborn child when the MMR vaccine was inadvertently given
just before or during pregnancy.